Given the training we’ve had in listening to everyone but ourselves and believing we are broken and bad, how do we begin? We start by understanding that the capacity to trust ourselves is not a fixed state we either have or don’t, like straight hair or violet eyes. Rather it is a quality of heart and mind we can cultivate. Like a muscle, it grows or shrinks with practice. For each of us, particular things will challenge our sense of self trust more or less; each time we can incorporate what we learn and grow our capacity to trust ourselves more.

Ultimately, the cultivation of self trust is an emotional, spiritual, and practical practice of strengthening our capacity to look within and discover what really matters to us; coming to deeply know what our talents and limitations are; learning how to access our mental, emotional, and spiritual resources; and tracking our patterns of success so that we can make choices that come from the inside and therefore offer the greatest possibility for happiness and self fulfillment.

In order to do this, we must engage in self reflection, the process of looking at ourselves honestly without minimizing our gifts—oh that old thing--or beating ourselves up for our learned self destructive patterns. From this reflection, we gain invaluable gifts of the heart and soul: self awareness: the accurate assessment of who we are and what we care about; self acceptance: the embracing of who we are in all our complexity; and self reliance: the ability to use what we know to get the results we want in our lives.

The good news is that we begin right where we are, as we are. It doesn’t matter how much the world has told you you’re wrong, stupid, screwed up. You don’t need to bring anything except all of who you are because every scrap can be used on behalf of what you want in your life and who you want to become. And the rewards are immense.

I’ll be writing more on this theme this month, on how you can discover your gifts and use them even more. Stay tuned!

Author's Bio: 

A member of Professional Thinking Partners who is recognized as a leading expert in change, M.J. Ryan specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, individuals, and leadership teams around the world to maximize performance and fulfillment. Her clients include Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Hewitt Associates, and Frito Lay. Her work is based on a combination of positive psychology, strengths-based coaching, the wisdom traditions, and cutting edge brain research. Her new book, titled “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For” was recently released published by Random House’s Broadway Books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.